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Free Tax Preparation Clinics to be Scheduled

With tax season beginning in February, many Hancock County residents are looking for ways to get the highest return possible without having to pay a high fee. To save taxpayers a little extra money this year, United Way of Hancock County is partnering with Ohio Benefit Bank, VITA, Brown Mackie and HHWP Community Action Commission to offer free tax clinics on various dates at locations throughout the community.

Individuals who made $65,000 or less with no capital gains in 2013 qualify for free tax preparation.  Married couples filing jointly who made $95,000 or less with no capital gains in 2013 also qualify. To schedule an appointment, callers should dial 2-1-1, or with an out of area cell phone number dial 1-800-650-HELP (4357). Appointments are being taken now for clinics that will be held in February.

Callers will be asked a series of questions and will be informed of the items needed at the tax clinic. They will also be scheduled at the location that is most convenient.  Walk-ins will also be accepted at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library on Saturdays, February 8- March 29, from 10-3 p.m. and will be served on a first-come first-served basis. To see a list of items needed for tax preparation, visit http://liveunitedhancockcounty.org and click on the “free tax clinics” button. 

One of the main goals of the free tax clinics program is to ensure that tax filers find out if they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC.) The average EITC is about $2,200, yet many Ohioans eligible for the EITC do not claim it. Those unclaimed EITC funds mean that local communities miss out on millions of dollars that would have otherwise generated economic activity and growth. Also, clients using the free tax clinics can maximize their return without having to pay a high fee to have their taxes completed.

A new effort has been organized this year, utilizing students from Brown Mackie College and Owens Community College as trained volunteer tax counselors.  This new collaboration allows for additional help for students of these colleges, as well as residents close to these locations. In addition, Brown Mackie staff members have been trained on additional services available through Ohio Benefit Bank.

The free tax preparation effort began in 2009 as a partnership led by United Way of Hancock County and this year includes numerous organizations such as: Ohio Benefit Bank, Millstream Career Center, HHWP Community Action Commission, VITA, Tall Timbers Distribution Center, Brown Mackie College, Owens Community College and the Hancock County Agency on Aging.